There is an interesting case heading to Ottawa before the Supreme Court of Canada. Bela Kosoian was arrested for failing to hold onto to an escalator handrail at a subway station in Montreal. The officer maintained that sign encouraging the practice was a binding law and issued a citation after she declined to hold on to the handrail. In the earlier Court of Appeal decision, Justice Julie Dutil concluded that, even though the officer was mistaken on the law, he still had grounds to arrest her after she dismissed his instructions and failed to give her name. That highly problematic ruling will now be reviewed.Kosoian was in the subway station in 2009 when an officer told her to “hold the handrail” and pointed to a pictogram showing people doing so. Kosoian responded that she did not consider the sign saying “Careful” was a legal obligation. She then refused to identify herself and was put under arrest.
She was held about 30 minutes then released with two tickets — one for $100 for disobeying a pictogram and another for $320 for having obstructed the work of an inspector. After she was acquitted on both charges she filed a lawsuit against the Montreal Transit Corp., the City of Laval and one of the officers, Fabio Camacho.
That suit was rejected later reject in both the trial and appellate courts. Justice Dutil ruled that Kosoian was the “author of her own misfortune.” That means that an officer can order a citizen to comply with a law that does not exist and then arrest the citizen when she refuse to comply.
Justice Mark Schrager wisely dissented and now the Supreme Court will examine the case.